UFC 103 Preview: The Prelims

Escudero vs. Miller

By Tim Leidecker Sep 18, 2009
The Zuffa LLC circus has only 72 hours to tear down the Octagon at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City and reconstruct it for UFC 103 “Franklin vs. Belfort” this Saturday at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.

The last time the UFC hit the Lone Star State, Diego Sanchez suffered his first career defeat and Matt Serra stopped Georges St. Pierre in the first round to capture the UFC welterweight title in one of the sport’s greatest upsets.

Koscheck will compete in the promotion’s latest trip to Texas, but the other faces on the card have changed. The prelims feature the return of “The Janitor,” the promotional debuts of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic training partner Igor Pokrajac and Rafaello Oliveira, as well as the pay-per-view debut of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 lightweight winner Efrain Escudero.

Efrain Escudero vs. Cole Miller

The Storyline: As the fight most likely to make the pay-per-view broadcast if a few main card matches end prematurely, it marks the debut of Escudero on the big stage. The 23-year-old Drew Fickett protégé was originally set to tackle Jeremy Stephens in April but had to withdraw from the bout with a rib injury. Escudero will fight Ricardo Liborio brown belt Cole Miller, a perfect 3-0 in his career against former “The Ultimate Fighter” contestants.

The Breakdown: In Escudero and Miller, the stylistic heirs of Dan Severn and Royce Gracie will go at it inside the Octagon. Escudero already caught a lot of flack for utilizing his wrestling base during “The Ultimate Fighter” and seems unlikely to deviate from that route against American Top Team’s Miller. The key will be to employ his ground-and-pound tactics and at the same time stay out of Miller’s dangerous chokes.

At 6-foot-1, Miller has taken nine of his 15 career wins by triangle, guillotine or rear-naked choke and raised a lot of eyebrows when he tapped BJJ black belt Jorge Gurgel in July 2008. Blessed with a huge frame for the weight class, he will enjoy a significant reach advantage on Escudero. Whether they keep it standing for a significant portion of the fight remains to be seen, as both men clearly have their strengths in ground fighting.

* * *

The Prediction: At this point in their careers, Miller has fought and beaten significantly tougher opposition. Go with the skinny Georgian to win a unanimous decision.
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>